December 5th 2010: Our last day in Punjab – In Goniyana, Bhatinda’s Virasat Mela, Mehta, Jaisinghwala and Kheoyali villages

We began our day in the Goniyana Gurudwara where we spent the night after the Jaitu meeting. Here, we emphasized on why it is important for urban consumers to engage with issues of food and farmers. Ananthoo of ReStore pointed out that we have gradually moved to a system where consumers have stopped thinking about their food, where it is coming from and the problems of the people who are producing and supplying that food; similarly, farmers have been compelled to a location where they can think about only that season and maximizing yields and forget whether they are making the food that we all consume more and more toxic. It is time that we changed this so that the health problems of urban consumers can be addressed at the production level itself and so that farmers’ problems can also be solved at the same time. Aarti Pankharaj shared the experiences from the yatra with the gathering of farmers and consumers here.

We then moved to the Virasat Mela in Bhatinda. However, due to the lack of an effective public address system here, many of us were very unhappy that we lost an opportunity to communicate with the thousands of people who were milling around in the Mela. We did not spend much time here and left for Mehta village.

Here, Jagdeesh Papra’s team was already singing thought-provoking songs when we reached there. Here, Pankaj Bhushan, Kavitha Kuruganti and Kishan Jakhar (well-known natural farmer from Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan) spoke. The crowd responded well and wanted to come to Delhi for the December 11th event. Further, farmers like Jagminder Singh and Gurvinder Singh came forward to adopt ecological farming in the village. Almost all the farmers present there said that they will conserve traditional seeds.

We moved on to Jaisinghwala village – we were running late and we were told that around 100 motorcyclists were waiting in Sangariya village, to welcome the Kisan Swaraj Yatra into Rajasthan. Here, due to the sense of feeling rushed, we presented our messages crisply and did not take much time to interact with the farmers who have been waiting for some time, unfortunately. Balwinder Singh Jeera, one of the Yatris with us, took the crowd to his home and fed everyone delicious snacks along with the ubiquitous big tumbler of tea.

Umendra Dutt of Kheti Virasat Mission and Kavitha Kuruganti then rushed to Kheoyali village, next to Badal village, so that we could interact with some media persons there. The bus followed us closely. We tried to wrap up this meeting quickly too, given that people were waiting for us in Sangariya. However, just as we were figuring out how to reach there even if we are delayed, we were told that the programme has been cancelled since dusk has settled in, cold was setting in and people had to go back to their respective villages.

Overall, it was a day that could have been planned better and coordinated better. Wherever we found time to interact with farmers, it was very productive. We slept in a dharamshala in Sangariya and our day was to begin at 5 am the next morning, in village Dhaban. This meant that we had to get up at 3 am, to take our bath, pack up and leave! Everyone settled in for an early night.

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